20080423-cover-thumb.jpgIt’s springtime in southwest Louisiana, and that means nirvana for music lovers.

An estimated 300,000-plus locals and tourists will descend on downtown Lafayette this week and weekend for Festival International, the world-renowed free music festival that spotlights Acadiana music and culture and illuminates our shared connection to Francophone music from across the world. As usual, this year’s festival is another strong mix of established and up-and-coming local favorites and national and international headliners.

And as usual, Independent Weekly staffers have been poring over the schedule for months, listening to this year’s crop of FIL bands and picking out our personal highlights and must-see performances. So don’t fret if you see an unfamiliar name in the line-up; our annual band previews will give you a full primer on the sounds of FIL 2008.

And here’s a handy tip for your festival planning: After reading our band previews and picking out your own musical to-do list, go to festivalinternational.com and click on the “Build Your Schedule” icon. There you can design and print out your very own personal festival schedule.

We’ve arranged the following previews by stage and date. Dive right in, and save us some dancing room next to you out at the Parcs.

POPEYES SCÈNE INTERNATIONAL

THURSDAY, APRIL 24

Sonny Landreth 6-7:15 p.m.
From his mid-70s debut Blues Attack to the early-90s song cycle South of I-10, Acadiana guitar hero Landreth has always informed his slide guitar mastery with lyrics evoking the South and southwest Louisiana, painting the pictures with his blistering leads. Rolling Stone writer David Fricke probably nailed it best with his “Cajun Cream” description, as Landreth’s live shows are steamrollers reminiscent of Clapton’s legendary ’60s power trio. And speaking of Clapton, he’s one of the guests on Landreth’s forthcoming May 20 album From the Reach, joining other Landreth peers and admirers Dr. John, Jimmy Buffett, Vince Gill and Mark Knopfler.

Blind Boys of Alabama with Preservation Hall Jazz Band Horns 8-9:15 p.m.
The world’s most famous gospel ensemble joins forces with the world’s most famous jazz ensemble for the debut night of the tour supporting the Blind Boys’ new CD, Down in New Orleans.

20080423-cover-0102.jpgIvan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk 10-11:15 p.m.
With the terms Neville and “phunk” in its name, you know the mission of this New Orleans band. Keyboardist Ivan Neville, son of Aaron Neville, has made a name for himself over the years playing with the likes of Bonnie Raitt and the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards. Neville’s also released a string of solo albums dating back more than a decade, which all spotlight his greasy Hammond B-3 organ playing and his deep gravelly vocals. For this project, Neville’s recruited ace New Orleans rhythm players like bassist Nick Daniels, and the band churns out slick originals and spirited, grinding takes on covers of funk material from icons like James Brown.

POPEYES SCÈNE INTERNATIONAL

FRIDAY, APRIL 25

March Fourth Marching Band
6-7:15 p.m.
The manic and sprawling circus-like sound and atmosphere of Northwest-based March Fourth Marching Band stretches across genres and boundaries. In its description of its debut CD, March Fourth sums up its mission: “Imagine Duke Ellington meets Sgt. Pepper in an international big-top Fantasia evoking a familial community reminiscent of the Grateful Dead. Imagine a 1920s speakeasy where Mr. Bungle meets the Shogun Warriors in a PG Clockwork Orange.” We’re sold and suspect its FIL debut is going to be one of the highlights of the 2008 festival.
 
Congrès Mondial 2009 Presents: Ode à l’Acadie
7:45-9 p.m.
What started as a humble stage show in Caraquet, New Brunswick celebrating Acadian culture has caught fire in its native country and turned into a touring troupe that’s one of Acadia’s greatest ambassadors. The seven-piece band formed in 2004 to commemorate the anniversary of the Grand Derangement tackles themes of exile, revolt, love, hope and the sea through a mix of vocals, violin, guitar, cello, mandolin, accordion, saxophone, piano, flute and percussion.

20080423-cover-0103.jpg Babylon Circus 9:30-10:45 p.m.
For more than a decade, this Lyons, France-based band has been shaking things up with its music and political stances. They started as a straight ska band but broadened their sound to incorporate rock, swing and jazz inspirations delivered with punk attitude. Bilingual vocals rage against injustice and political bufoonery, and the most recent album, 2003’s Dances of Resistance, was built around an anti-war theme.

POPEYES SCÈNE INTERNATIONAL

SATURDAY, APRIL 26

MOOV
Noon-1 p.m.
In its United States debut, this 30-piece female troupe from Martinique is importing its traditional island rhythms celebrating Carnival. But don’t expect a staid and serene history lesson. Headdresses and an explosion of floral colors in its wardrobe are only half the attraction; picture an all-female Mardi Gras marching band that relies on bass and snare drums and a wealth of percussion instruments to strut its stuff, and you’ll get the picture.

OIF Presents: Menwar 1:30-2:45 p.m.
Drawing strong inspiration from legendary Afropop icon Fela Kuti, singer-songwriter Menwar is an inspirational figure to the Creole population of the Mauritius island east of Madagascar. The rail-thin bandleader with the flowing dreadlocks is a commanding stage presence, singing droning meditations and rallying cries in Creole French while a full band surrounds him with ringing, danceable Afropop. His first singles date back to 1977, and he’s one of the leading practitioners of the Sega style, which evolved from its dirge-like origins to embrace zouk and soukous rhythms. In his homeland, Menwar is known for his outspoken views on the Catholic Church’s effects on the Creole Mauritian community.

Habib Koite 3:15-4:30 p.m.
Simply put, one of the biggest bookings of this year’s festival. The bilingual Koite is one of Mali’s best-known superstars, as his warm, intimate vocal delivery — backed by a veritable supergroup of West African musicians — has enchanted the likes of Bonnie Raitt and bluesman Eric Bibb, who’ve both recorded with Koite. He’s one of the superstars of the well respected Putumayo world music record label, mixing up his shimmering Afropop with hypnotic open-tuning guitar playing with blues and flamenco touches.

A Tribute to Andy Palacio featuring the Garifuna Collective & Umalali
5-6:15 p.m. Revered Belizian musician Palacia was the Garifuna equivalent of CODOFIL and local cultural activists like Barry Ancelet. Palacia sensed that the native language and traditions of Garifuna culture were slipping away and made it his life’s mission to preserve and promote one of the smaller subsects of African culture. Just as Ry Cooder did with his Buena Vista Social Club project, Palacia organized Paranda, a recording project that tracked down elderly Garifuna musicians and recorded their blend of Cuban son, African percussion and American blues touchstones. Palacia died unexpectedly this January from two strokes, and his bandmates are carrying on his legacy with this tribute tour, playing songs from 2007’s Watina album, which Palacia considered his masterpiece and most lasting musical contribution to Garifuna.

New Orleans Bingo! Show 6:45-8 p.m.
Lafayette native Clint Maegden’s on a roll. The Liquidrone member has made quite a splash in New Orleans, first creating Bingo! Show, a rollicking theater experience that presents a live bingo game complemented by witty cabaret songs and circus routines. Most recently he became an unlikely vocalist for the venerable Preservation Hall Jazz Band, recording a haunting version of “Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans” and performing a dynamic, original version of the National Anthem with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to kick off the national telecast of the LSU Tigers’ national championship win over Ohio State. For more, see the feature on P. 17. 

20080423-cover-0104.jpg The Duhks 8:30-9:45 p.m.
If your idea of folk music is a winsome balladeer with an acoustic guitar plaintively singing about world peace, the Duhks will blast that preconception out of your mind. Composed of five tattooed bandmates in their 20s, the Duhks whip up a whirling high-energy acoustic storm that combines the instrumental wizardry of predecessors like Bela Fleck and David Grisman, and adds raucous vocal harmonies and boundless energy. Since forming in 2001, the band has earned admirers as diverse as Doc Watson and CSNY’s David Crosby and scored a Grammy nomination for Best Country Vocal Performance. Blues, zydeco, soul, Latin, Cuban, string band and gospel all take flight in the Duhks sound; check out the online YouTube video of the Duhks’ recently jam with legendary Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones (on mandolin) at North Carolina’s Merlefest for a mind-blowing hootenanny version of Led Zep’s “Whole Lotta Love.”

Yerba Buena 10:15-11:30 p.m.
With its recent album Island Life, Yerba Buena captured a sound touted “for urbanistic island living.” The New York-based Latin/funk ensemble exploded out of the gates in 2003 with its Grammy-nominated debut album President Alien and further spread its exotic street-wise sound with blistering live performances. With soaring mariachi cantina horn lines, sensuous female vocals, wise-guy New Yawk interjections, reggae guitar line and subtle hip-hop rhythms, Yerba Buena cooks up a streetwise musical recipe that’s simultaneously cool and spicy. 

POPEYES SCÈNE INTERNATIONAL

SUNDAY, APRIL 27

Samarabalouf
Noon-1 p.m.
Picture 1920s gypsy jazz guitar legend Django Reinhardt hopped up on Red Bull, and you’ve got the exuberant mania of Samarabalouf. The French string trio (lead guitar, rhythm guitar and bass) builds on Reinhardt’s effortlessly swinging Hot Club of Paris lead and pumps it up with excursions into acoustic boogie-woogie, blues, flamenco, waltzes and tangos. The band was a big hit at its 2003 United States debut at Festival International and parlayed that into appearances at Chicago’s World Music Festival and New York’s Kennedy Center. With that kind of memory to build on, its return FIL appearance promises another round of unexpected virtuoso string-trio excursions.

20080423-cover-0106.jpgRed Stick Ramblers 1:30-2:30 p.m.
The Red Stick Ramblers’ new video for “Made in the Shade” is a watershed moment for a band whose vision has always taken Cajun music in new directions. With award-winning director Tom Krueger (who’s worked with U2, Bob Dylan, Bruce Sprinsteen and R.E.M.), the Ramblers’ song of moonshine from Opelousas comes to life with raucous dance hall scenes and a backyard still. The Cajun influence is there in the twin-fiddle leads from Kevin Wimmer and Linzay Young, but they’re buttressed with the swinging rhythms of drummer Glenn Fields and bassist Eric Frey, and the song gets a spirited barrelhouse piano solo. The song’s the title track from the band’s superb 2007 album Made in the Shade (Sugar Hill Records), which showcases the Ramblers’ seamless blend of Cajun, Western swing and gyspy jazz. To further spread the band’s message across state lines, visit www.redstickramblers.com for a link to directly request the “Made in the Shade” video on Country Music Television.

FolQuébec Presents: Joaquin Diaz 3-4 p.m.
The diatonic accordion’s in good hands with Joaquin Diaz, who’s gone from playing for tips in the streets of Santa Domingo at age 9 to earning a reputation as one of merengue’s finest practitioners. Probably the best proof of Diaz’s masterful accordion playing and hot-pepper syncopated merengue is Merengue Alegre, the 2002 CD he recorded for Arhoolie Records. Arhoolie president Chris Strachwitz is one of the world’s authorities on traditional Mexican music, boasting a record collection of 10,000 Mexican 45 RPM singles alone. And Strachwitz is also the man who signed zydeco legend Clifton Chenier to Arhoolie, which shows you the kind of musical peers Diaz keeps.

Javier Garcia 4:30-5:45 p.m.
After completing college, Madrid native Javier Garcia moved to Miami in the 90s. He experienced a musical epiphany there, drawing on his roots, the Caribbean sounds percolating in Miami, and the hard rock he heard on American radio. The result? Garcia’s a fiery multi-cultural guitar hero, blasting out Hendrix-like “Voodoo Chile” wah-wah lines into a fusion of boogaloo, rumba, son, hip hop, reggae, ska, Haitian compass, bossa nova, boleros and flamenco. Evidence of the mix is found on his recent album 13, which features guest appearances by legendary Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sanduval and Paul McCartney’s drummer — and was produced by Gustavo Santaolalla, known for working with alt-rockers Molotov.

Burning Spear 6:15-7:30 p.m.
At 63 years old, reggae legend Winston Rodney — aka Burning Spear – isn’t letting the fire die out. Bob Marley encouraged Robley to visit Jamaica’s famed Studio One to record his first tracks, and almost 40 years later, Robley is still making powerful reggae music with a message. His devotion to Jah and the legacy of black activist Marcus Garvey remains unflagging, through more than 25 albums that have earned him nine Grammy nominations and one Grammy Award. He’s currently embracing the template of his seminal ’70s recordings, using a horn section and female backup singers to help deliver themes of solidarity, love and non-violence. 

SOUTHERN COMFORT SCÈNE FAIS DO

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23

20080423-cover-0107.jpg T-Salé Cajun Band 6:30-7:45 p.m.
On its recently released sophomore CD, Un Autre Tit Bout, T-Sale Cajun Band shows the spirited playing and diverse inspirations that have made it a local favorite since the release of its 2004 eponymous debut CD. Composed of brothers Jean-Jacques Aucoin and Louie Aucoin, Dave Trainer, Richard Burgess on guitar and Todd Aucoin on drums and t-fer, T-Sale mixes Cajun dancehall favorites (“La danse du Lac Charles,” “Hippy Ti Yo,” Aldus Roger’s “Love Sick Waltz”) with songs from the Creole canon (Boozoo Chavis’ “I’m Going Away” and Amédé Ardoin’s “Les Blues de Crowley”). The result, especially in the band’s live shows, is a deep repertoire of varied textures and rhythms ranging from hardcore waltzes to bluesy romps.

Chris Ardoin & NuStep 8:15-9:30 p.m.
As a member of the legendary Creole Ardoin family, it wasn’t surprising that Chris Ardoin made waves at an early age by signing with Rounder Records and packing zydeco dance halls after recording albums like Gon’ Be Jus Fine and Turn the Page — all before he graduated high school. Like the late great Beau Jocque, Ardoin mixes in reggae, R&B, and other contemporary influences, but Ardoin’s added a pronounced hip-hop flavor to his latest album, V.I.P., and embraced the nickname of the Candyman. The bling-bling CD cover to V.I.P. takes a page straight from New Orleans hip-hop dynasty Cash Money Records’ playbook, and Ardoin’s harder edge and beats have made him one of the biggest draws in next-generation zydeco.

SOUTHERN COMFORT SCÈNE FAIS DO

THURSDAY, APRIL 24

March Fourth Marching Band
6-7 p.m.
The manic and sprawling circus-like sound and atmosphere of Northwest-based March Fourth Marching Band stretches across genres and boundaries. In its description of its debut CD, March Fourth sums up its mission: “Imagine Duke Ellington meets Sgt. Pepper in an international big-top Fantasia evoking a familial community reminiscent of the Grateful Dead. Imagine a 1920s speakeasy where Mr. Bungle meets the Shogun Warriors in a PG Clockwork Orange.” We’re sold and suspect its FIL debut is going to be one of the highlights of the 2008 festival.

Mamadou Diabate Ensemble
7:30-8:45 p.m.
Though he isn’t yet 35 years old, Diabate is one of the acknowledged masters of the kora, the 21-string African harp, and comes from a long line of storytelling griots. He started winning kora competitions at the age of 15 and embarked on international tours that took him to hallowed halls such as New York’s Lincoln Center and Metropolitan Museum and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. Diabate now lives in New York, where his hypnotic kora mastery has led to collaborations with jazz masters Donald Byrd and Randy Weston and Zimbabwean legend Thomas Mapfumo. He earned a World Music Grammy nomination for his 2005 solo Behmanka CD, and his recent 2006 CD Heritage features renowned American jazz bassist Noah Jarrett.

Babylon Circus 9:15-10:30 p.m.
For more than a decade, this Lyons, France-based band has been shaking things up with its music and political stances. They started as a straight ska band but broadened its sound to incorporate rock, swing and jazz inspirations delivered with punk attitude. Its bilingual vocals rage against injustice and political bufoonery, and its most recent album, 2003’s Dances of Resistance, was built around an anti-war theme.

SOUTHERN COMFORT SCÈNE FAIS DO

FRIDAY, APRIL 25

OIF Presents: Menwar
5:45-7 p.m.
Drawing strong inspiration from legendary Afropop icon Fela Kuti, singer-songwriter Menwar is an inspirational figure to the Creole population of the Mauritius island east of Madagascar. The rail-thin bandleader with the flowing dreadlocks is a commanding stage presence, singing droning meditations and rallying cries in Creole French while a full band surrounds him with ringing, danceable Afropop. His first singles date back to 1977, and he’s one of the leading practitioners of the Sega style, which evolved from its dirge-like origins to embrace zouk and soukous rhythms. In his homeland, Menwar is known for his outspoken views on the Catholic Church’s effects on the Creole Mauritian community.

Alain-François 7:30-8:45 p.m.
Singer/songwriter/violinist Alain-François takes the acoustic storytelling traditions of Acadia music and adds his own spin to the mix with electric guitars, drums, bass and roiling percussion. On stage, François romps like a new-country bandleader, wielding his violin between two guitarists who get so pumped up they pogo on occasion.

20080423-cover-0108.jpgHabib Koite 9:15-10:30 p.m.
Simply put, one of the biggest bookings of this year’s festival. The bilingual Koite is one of Mali’s best-known superstars, as his warm, intimate vocal delivery — backed by a veritable supergroup of West African musicians — has enchanted the likes of Bonnie Raitt and bluesman Eric Bibb, who’ve both recorded with Koite. He’s one of the superstars of the well respected Putumayo world music record label, mixing up his hypnotic open-tuning guitar playing with blues and flamenco touches.

SOUTHERN COMFORT SCÈNE FAIS DO

SATURDAY, APRIL 26

UL Percussion
Noon-1:15 p.m.
Under the tutelage of director Troy Breaux, the UL Lafayette Percussion ensemble hardly plays it safe. While the students are well versed in cornerstone classical and jazz percussion, Breaux pushes his pupils in myriad musical directions, and subsets of the main ensemble include the Marimba Ensemble, Pop-Contemporary Ensemble, Steel Drum Band, Afro-Cuban Ensemble, Brazilian Ensemble, Taiko Ensemble and Indonesian Gamelan Orchestra. At its recent annual Big Bang concert, the troupe played everything from vibraphones to stools to garbage cans, producing everything from Middle Eastern trance-like drumming to a raucous cacophony that sounded like a avant-garde expansion of the whirring cash registers that kick off Pink Floyd’s “Money.”

Las Eréndiras 1:45-3 p.m.
Straight out of San Antonio, this female mariachi ensemble dresses in traditional mariachi garb and sombreros, and the authenticity of the music follows suit. From aching ballads to full-band workouts, the group — whose 10-plus members are no older than 22 — uses sweeping violin lines and a full horn section to live up to their name of “Aztec Princesses.” When the band isn’t touring, it plays nearly seven nights a week at various Mexican restaurants in San Antonio, including outposts on San Antonio’s famed Riverwalk.

Mamadou Diabate Ensemble
3:30-4:45 p.m.
Though he isn’t yet 35 years old, Diabate is one of the acknowledged masters of the kora, the 21-string African harp, and comes from a long line of storytelling griots. He started winning kora competitions at the age of 15 and embarked on international tours that took him to hallowed halls such as New York’s Lincoln Center and Metropolitan Museum, and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. Diabate now lives in New York, where his hypnotic kora mastery has led to collaborations with jazz masters Donald Byrd and Randy Weston and Zimbabwean legend Thomas Mapfumo. He earned a World Music Grammy nomination for his 2005 solo Behmanka CD, and his recent 2006 CD Heritage features renowned American jazz bassist Noah Jarrett.

Etran Finatawa 5:15-6:45 p.m.
While most musicians chafe at being pigeonholed into genre labels, it’s hard to think of a more appropriate description for Etran Finatawa as “nomad blues.” On the band’s CD covers and in multiple band photographs, its members appear in the middle of the West African desert, gazing toward the horizon. Formed in 2004, the band aims to update the haunting music of the nomadic Wodaabe and Tuareg tribes with modern, sometimes Western sounds. Traditional chants and hand-clapping are augmented by bluesy electric guitar that will strike a chord with fans of Ali Farka Toure’s work. Their distinct billowing garments and turbans enriches the experience wherever they go, and this appearance should be special, as it’s not only Etran Finatawa’s festival debut, but 2008 marks the band’s first foray into the United States.

Javier Garcia 7:15-8:45 p.m.
After completing college, Madrid native Javier Garcia moved to Miami in the 90s. He experienced a musical epiphany there, drawing on his roots, the Caribbean sounds percolating in Miami, and the hard rock he heard on American radio. The result? Garcia’s a fiery multi-cultural guitar hero, blasting out Hendrix-like “Voodoo Chile” wah-wah lines into a fusion of boogaloo, rumba, son, hip hop, reggae, ska, Haitian compass, bossa nova, boleros and flamenco. Evidence of the mix is found on his recent album 13, which features guest appearances by legendary Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sanduval and Paul McCartney’s drummer — and was produced by Gustavo Santaolalla, known for working with alt-rockers Molotov.

Hot 8 Brass Band 9:15-10:45 p.m.
Like their predecessor the Dirty Dozen and Rebirth, New Orleans’ Hot 8 Brass Band takes the Crescent City brass-band tradition and gives it fresh blasts of modern jazz, soul, hip-hop, R&B and whatever musical inspirations cross its path. For more than a decade, Hot 8 has embraced a playing trifecta of second-line parades, nightclub shows and prestigious national and international touring dates. And few bands embody the hardship and perseverance of New Orleans post-Katrina as Hot 8; drummer Dinerral Shavers was an innocent victim of a drive-by shooting, while bandmate Joseph Williams was previously shot and killed by police in a still-controversial confrontation during a second-line parade. Their bandmates honor their fallen brothers with unwavering commitment and a relentless touring schedule that’s earned them praise from The New York Times, Nightline and CNN.

SOUTHERN COMFORT SCÈNE FAIS DO

SUNDAY, APRIL 27

MOOV
Noon-1:15 p.m.
In its United States debut, this 30-piece female troupe from Martinique is importing its traditional island rhythms celebrating Carnival. But don’t expect a staid and serene history lesson. Headresses and an explosion of floral colors in its wardrobe are only half the attraction; picture an all-female Mardi Gras marching band that relies on bass and snare drums and a wealth of percussion instruments to strut its stuff, and you’ll get the picture.

20080423-cover-0109.jpgBenjy Davis Project 1:45-3 p.m.
In six years, this Baton Rouge-based rock band has blossomed from a college favorite into a band poised for national recognition. Its recent fourth album, Dust, is chock full of memorable hooks and choruses, and Benjy Davis Project looks like it could follow in Better Than Ezra’s footsteps as the next Capitol City rock exports. As proof that the band’s also staking its claim as one of Louisiana’s homegrown favorites, look no further than Abita Beer using the band’s “Sweet Southern Moon” as the audio soundtrack for its television commercial campaign honoring the LSU Tigers’ national championship.

Les Breastfeeders 3:30-4:45 p.m.
With a name like Les Breastfeeders, you’d think they’d be a prime candidate for FIL’s Place des Enfant Stage. But this Canadian rock band delivers decidedly adult garage-band rock ‘n’ roll, with its stage show nodding to glam-rock and psychedelia. The quintet’s recent albums and videos have made them indie-rock critic’s darlings, with praise from Spin, Pitchfork, NME and Magnet helping drive its sophomore album Les matins de grands soirs onto college-radio playlists across the states. Impressive feat, especially considering that most English-speaking American journalists and disc jockeys can’t understand the band’s French lyrics.

Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience
5:15-6:30 p.m.
Barefoot zydeco wildman Simien and his band will be savoring this set more than usual, as it’s their first major local festival appearance since recently winning the inaugural Grammy Award for Best Zydeco/Cajun album. Simien took home the prize for his Live World Wide album, which captured Simien’s signature concert blend of originals (“Pet de Kat Krewe”), nods to the masters (Boozoo Chavis’ “Uncle Bud”), Americana influences (Bob Dylan’s “Mississippi”) and funky crowd-pleasing Louisiana medleys (“Iko Iko/When the Saints Go Marching In/Brother John/Jambalaya”). No matter what he sings, Simien’s ever-soulful voice — which still yields comparisons to Aaron Neville and Sam Cooke — makes him a force to be reckoned with.

SCÈNE LAFAYETTE

FRIDAY, APRIL 25

Vavavoom
5:30-6:45 p.m.
Vavavoom is one of those bands that was born to make its name on the freewheeling late-night scene of New Orleans’ Frenchmen Street. The European and Caribbean vibe that permeates the strip was a perfect home for the band’s two guitarists, who cut their teeth as high schoolers in France on Django Reinhardt’s monumental gyspy-swing recordings. Add in a pianist/accordionist and a young twenty-something bassist who’s already gigged with many of New Orleans’ modern jazz giants, and you’ve got a band that synthesizes Crescent City jazz, Jelly Roll Morton’s Spanish tinge and French swing into a singular sound. Vavavoom won Best Emerging Band in the 2007 Big Easy Awards, and its new album Swingphonicity features vavavooming covers from the songbooks of Reinhardt, Hoagy Carmichael and Dizzy Gillespie.

A Tribute to Andy Palacio featuring the Garifuna Collective & Umalali
7:15-8:30 p.m.
Revered Belizian musician Palacia was the Garifuna equivalent of CODOFIL and local cultural activists like Barry Ancelet. Palacia sensed that the native language and traditions of Garifuna culture were slipping away, and made it his life’s mission to preserve and promote one of the smaller subsects of African culture. Just as Ry Cooder did with his Buena Vista Social Club project, Palacia organized Paranda, a recording project that tracked down elderly Garifuna musisicans and recorded their blend of Cuban son, African percussion and American blues touchstones. Palacia died unexpectedly this January from two strokes, and his bandmates are carrying on his legacy with this tribute tour, playing songs from 2007’s Watina album, which Palacia considered his masterpiece and most lasting musical contribution to Garifuna

The Duhks 9-10:15 p.m.
If your idea of folk music is a winsome balladeer with an acoustic guitar plaintively singing about world peace, the Duhks will blast that preconception out of your mind. Composed of five tattooed bandmates in their 20s, the Duhks whip up a whirling high-energy acoustic storm that combines the instrumental wizardry of predecessors like Bela Fleck and David Grisman, and adds raucous vocal harmonies and boundless energy. Since forming in 2001, the band has earned admirers as diverse as Doc Watson and CSNY’s David Crosby, and scored a Grammy nomination for Best Country Vocal Performance. Blues, zydeco, soul, Latin, Cuban, string band and gospel all take flight in the Duhks sound; check out the online YouTube video of the Duhks’ recently jam with legendary Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones (on mandolin) at North Carolina’s Merlefest for a mind-blowing hootenanny version of Led Zep’s “Whole Lotta Love.”

SCÈNE LAFAYETTE

SATURDAY, APRIL 26

Benwela
9-9:45 a.m.
Manic and whimsical, Benwala uses a multi-instrumental string-and-horn lineup of violin, mandolin, trumpet and banjo to create stomping rave-ups that sound like the soundtrack to French versions of Tom and Jerry cartoons. The band’s recent album Le Mat rolls with one high-energy romp to another, with rapid-fire French lyrics spit out over a melange of spry banjo picking and fiddle runs mixed with electric guitar solos. If Benwala’s live show matches the frenetic energy of its albums, you won’t need coffee or beer to get moving for this set.

Vavavoom 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Vavavoom is one of those bands that was born to make its name on the freewheeling late-night scene of New Orleans’ Frenchmen Street. The European and Caribbean vibe that permeates the strip was a perfect home for the band’s two guitarists, who cut their teeth as high schoolers in France on Django Reinhardt’s monumental gyspy-swing recordings. Add in a pianist/accordionist and a young twenty-something bassist who’s already gigged with many of New Orleans’ modern jazz giants, and you’ve got a band that synthesizes Crescent City jazz, Jelly Roll Morton’s Spanish tinge and French swing into a singular sound. Vavavoom won Best Emerging Band in the 2007 Big Easy Awards, and its new album Swingphonicity features vavavooming covers from the songbooks of Reinhardt, Hoagy Carmichael and Dizzy Gillespie.

Samarabalouf
1-2:15 p.m.
Picture 1920s gypsy jazz guitar legend Django Reinhardt hopped up on Red Bull, and you’ve got the exuberant mania of Samarabalouf. The French string trio (lead guitar, rhythm guitar and bass) builds on Reinhardt’s effortlessly swinging Hot Club of Paris lead and pumps it up with excursions into acoustic boogie-woogie, blues, flamenco, waltzes and tangos. The band was a big hit at its 2003 United States debut at Festival International, and parlayed that into appearances at Chicago’s World Music Festival and New York’s Kennedy Center. With that kind of memory to build on, its return FIL appearance promises another round of unexpected virtuoso string-trio excursions.

Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie
2:45-4 p.m.
Geno Delafose’s father would be proud. After late great Creole bandleader John Delafose passed away, son Geno picked up the torch and has honored his father’s legacy admirably for more than a decade running. Singing in a mix of French and English, Delafose has largely stayed true to his Creole roots, playing both single-row and triple-row diatonic button accordions for French songs and switching to piano accordion when he branches out into forays into contemporary R&B-influenced zydeco. The Eunice native’s most recent album, Le Creole Cowboy, featuring French songs mixed with covers from the likes of Van Morrison and D.L. Menard, was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Zydeco/Cajun Album category.

Congrès Mondial 2009 Presents: Ode à l’Acadie 4:30-5:45 p.m.
What started as a humble stage show in Caraquet, New Brunswick celebrating Acadian culture has caught fire in its native country and turned into a touring troupe that’s one of Acadia’s greatest ambassadors. The seven-piece band formed in 2004 to commemorate the anniversary of the Grand Derangement tackles themes of exile, revolt, love, hope and the sea through a mix of vocals, violin, guitar, cello, mandolin, accordion, saxophone, piano, flute and percussion.

QUÉBEC PRESENTS: Benwela
6:15-7:30 p.m.
Manic and whimsical, Benwala uses a multi-instrumental string-and-horn lineup of violin, mandolin, trumpet and banjo to create stomping rave-ups that sound like the soundtrack to French versions of Tom and Jerry cartoons. The band’s recent album Le Mat rolls with one high-energy romp to another, with rapid-fire French lyrics spit out over a melange of spry banjo picking and fiddle runs mixed with electric guitar solos. If Benwala’s live show matches the frenetic energy of its albums, you won’t need coffee or beer to get moving for this set.

Alain François 8-9:15 p.m.
Singer/songwriter/violinist Alain-François takes the acoustic storytelling traditions of Acadia music and adds his own spin to the mix with electric guitars, drums, bass and roiling percussion. On stage, François romps like a new-country bandleader, wielding his violin between two guitarists who get so pumped up they pogo on occasion.

Les Breastfeeders 9:45-11 p.m.
With a name like Les Breastfeeders, you’d think they’d be a prime candidate for for FIL’s Place des Enfant Stage. But this Canadian rock band delivers decidedly adult garage-band rock ‘n’ roll, with its stage show nodding to glam-rock and psychedelia. The quintet’s recent albums and videos have made them indie-rock critic’s darlings, with praise from Spin, Pitchfork, NME and Magnet helping drive its sophomore album Les matins de grands soirs onto college-radio playlists across the states. Impressive feat, especially considering that most English-speaking American journalists and disc jockeys can’t understand the band’s French lyrics.

SCÈNE LAFAYETTE

SUNDAY, APRIL 27

20080423-cover-0110.jpgAnn Savoy & Her Sleepless Knights 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m.
Renaissance woman Ann Savoy is known as an author (Cajun Music, A Reflection of a People), record producer (Evangeline Made: A Tribute to Cajun Music) and multi-talented musician who records and plays with the Savoy-Doucet Band, the Magnolia Sisters and Linda Ronstadt. Her most recent project is If Dreams Come True, the debut album from Savoy & Her Sleepless Knights. Savoy presents her love for jazz standards like “The Very Thought of You” and “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” infusing the bilingual proceedings with sophistication and classy arrangements. The whole project uses 1920s and 1930s Parisian swing as an inspiration, with the sounds of Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grapelli pulsing through the album.

Brass Bed 1:15-2:30 p.m.
Independent Weekly contributor Dege Legg said it best in his recent preview for Lafayette rockers Brass Bed’s CD-release party: How to Make Brass Bed Stew:
3 pounds of lean-ground guitars (or meat substitute)
1 can of Beatles obsession
2 tablespoons of Wilco
½ cup of healthy disdain for modern commercial rock
1 can of vocal harmony and horns
6 bay leaves
Bake in wood oven for 74 minutes and serve hot.
With musical chops beyond their years, well-thought arrangements, plus some collegiate mojo, Brass Bed have been kicking buns with their angular guitar rock since first arriving on the Lafayette scene. Their Jay Burton-produced second CD, Midnight Matinee, just hit the streets.

Etran Finatawa 3-4:15 p.m.
While most musicians chafe at being pigeonholed into genre labels, it’s hard to think of a more appropriate description for Etran Finatawa as “nomad blues.” On the band’s CD covers and in multiple band photographs, its members appear in the middle of the West African desert, gazing toward the horizon. Formed in 2004, the band aims to update the haunting music of the nomadic Wodaabe and Tuareg tribes with modern, sometimes Western sounds. Traditional chants and hand-clapping are augmented by bluesy electric guitar that will strike a chord with fans of Ali Farka Toure’s work. Their distinct billowing garments and turbans enriches the experience wherever they go, and this appearance should be special, as it’s not only Etran Finatawa’s festival debut, but 2008 marks the band’s first foray into the United States.

Benwela 4:45-6 p.m.
Manic and whimsical, Benwala uses a multi-instrumental string-and-horn lineup of violin, mandolin, trumpet and banjo to create stomping rave-ups that sound like the soundtrack to French versions of Tom and Jerry cartoons. The band’s recent album Le Mat rolls with one high-energy romp to another, with rapid-fire French lyrics spit out over a melange of spry banjo picking and fiddle runs mixed with electric guitar solos. If Benwala’s live show matches the frenetic energy of its albums, you won’t need coffee or beer to get moving for this set.

COMMUNITY COFFEE SCÈNE HÉRITAGE

FRIDAY, APRIL 25

Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys
6-7:15 p.m.
Zydeco gets sultry and playful with Rosie Ledet, the Zydeco Sweetheart. Since she burst onto the scene in the early ‘90s, Ledet’s funky grooves and knockout stage presence has proved that zydeco is hardly just a man’s world. The self-taught Church Point native sings in Creole French and English; her bluesy voice is perfectly suited to show-stoppers like the risque “I’m Gonna Take Care of Your Dog.”

FolQuébec Presents: Joaquin Diaz 7:45-9 p.m.
The diatonic accordion’s in good hands with Joaquin Diaz, who’s gone from playing for tips in the streets of Santa Domingo at age 9 to earning a reputation as one of merengue’s finest practitioners. Probably the best proof of Diaz’s masterful accordion playing and hot-pepper syncopated merengue is Merengue Alegre, the 2002 CD he recorded for Arhoolie Records. Arhoolie president Chris Strachwitz is one of the world’s authorities on traditional Mexican music, boasting a record collection of 10,000 Mexican 45 RPM singles alone. And Strachwitz is also the man who signed zydeco legend Clifton Chenier to Arhoolie, which shows you the kind of musical peers Diaz keeps.

Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys
9:30-10:45 p.m.
Accordionist Steve Riley and his venerable ensemble The Mamou Playboys stand shoulder to shoulder with BeauSoleil as the most respected ambassadors of Cajun music. Riley, fiddler David Greely and guitarist Sam Broussard are a triple threat of instrumental virtuosos, whether they’re mining the classic Cajun songbook, creating their own soulful originals in the genre or pushing the boundaries with rock and zydeco influences in tracks like “Bayou Ruler” and “King Zydeco.” Before Cajun and zydeco earned their own Grammy category this year, Riley set himself apart by earning a Best Traditional Folk Album Grammy nomination in 2004 for his album Bon Rêve. The band’s longevity and creative drive shines on The Best of Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, a new two-CD set that culls the cream of the band’s 10 albums and includes three brand-new tracks.

COMMUNITY COFFEE SCÈNE HÉRITAGE

SATURDAY, APRIL 26

Louisiana Folk Roots Presents: Isabeau
12:15-1:30 p.m.
This new project from vocalists Marce Lacouture, Chelsea Ellison, Anna Laura Edmiston and Sara Le Menestrel is an extension of Lacouture’s work with Veillele, the ensemble devoted to performing and preserving the tradition of a capella Cajun songs. Isabeau also upholds the a capella tradition, but expands the geographical range to include American, French and Canadian folk and gospel ballads.

Louisiana Folk Roots Presents: The Lost Bayou Ramblers’ tribute to The Hackberry Ramblers 2-3:15 p.m.
One of Louisiana’s best loved bands, the Hackberry Ramblers’ signature blend of Cajun and Western swing was a Gulf Coast staple for more than 60 years following the band’s 1933 inception. The Ramblers experienced an unlikely and inspirational late-career renaissance with the release of their Grammy-nominated 1993 album Deep Water, which led to appearances on The Today Show and the full-length movie documentary, Make ‘Em Dance: The Hackberry Ramblers’ Story. Co-founder Edwin Duhon’s death in 2006 at the age of 95 was the final chapter in the band’s story, but fiddler and co-founder Luderin Darbonne will be on hand today as the Lost Bayou Ramblers honor the Hackberrys’ amazing legacy.

The Figs 3:45-4:45 p.m.
This all-female band mixes glorious vocal harmonies and a multi-instrumental string sound for a charming, sweet sound befitting its namesake. Mining blues, country and regional influences, the Figs’ smart originals fit snugly alongside covers of inspirations as varied as the Carter Family and Mark Knopfler. The band’s eponymous 2007 debut CD was one of last year’s most strikingly fresh efforts, and the band’s live show — where its members dress in vintage clothing — are joyous affairs that show that old-time music can still sound new.

Dry Wood Film featuring Bois Sec Ardoin
5-5:45 p.m.
A special screening of acclaimed documentarian Les Blank’s 1973 film on Creole legend Bois Sec Ardoin.

Louisiana Folk Roots Presents:  Tribute to Bois Sec Ardoin with the Ardoin family 6-7:15 p.m. 
The late great Creole fiddler Bois Sec Ardoin remains one of Creole music’s seminal figures. The nephew of Amede Ardoin, the creator of zydeco, Bois Sec was a living link to Creole music’s origins up until his death in 2007 at the age of 91. Morris Ardoin, Bois Sec’s son, and Dexter Ardoin’s, Bois Sec’s grandson, leads this tribute, with Dexter’s band The Creole Ramblers providing the backing.

Feufollet
7:45-9 p.m.
For the past 13 years, Feufollet has been touted as a band of musical prodigies steeped in the Cajun tradition. Their latest release, Cow Island Hop, paints a refreshing portrait of a familiar band shedding its adolescent garb, donning new threads, and assuming its place as rightful heirs to a rich musical heritage.
Accordionist and singer Chris Stafford and Fiddle Chris Segura have been members of the band since its inception in 1995, when they were 8 and 11 years old respectively. Vocalist Anna Laura Edmiston joined the group in 2003, followed later by Joshua Clegg Caffery, a Red Stick Ramblers’ alum. The band’s new album features a host of other local musicians including Jimmie Breaux of BeauSoleil, Richard Comeaux of River Road and Lil’ Band O’ Gold,  and Chris Courville of The Lost Bayou Ramblers. Philippe Billeaudeaux, of local Amazing Nuns fame, is the latest addition to the group. Songs like Caffery’s “Cow Island Waltz,” the “Eunice Waltz,” Adam Hebert’s “Blues de Dix Ans,” Shirley Bergeron’s “Madame Bosco,” Stafford’s “Chere Beth” and the Touchet Family’s “Jolie Fille” showcase a band with both an intuitive understanding and masterful command of Cajun music, but it’s apparent that Cow Island Hop’s not your same old Cajun album with standard two-steps and waltzes. The fuzzed out Farfisa organ pumps along happily, adding another dimension to the steady drumming. 

20080423-cover-0111.jpgJeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys 9:30-10:45 p.m.
The Creole Cowboys features the talent of two of Acadiana’s most accomplished Creole musicians ­— accordionist Jeffery Broussard and fiddler D’Jalma Garnier. Broussard is best known as the leader of the sizzling Zydeco Force band, while Garnier’s fiddle work has helped propel the likes of Filé and the Lucky Playboys. The band’s 2007 debut, Keepin’ the Tradition Alive, is a prime slice of up-tempo, contemporary zydeco that never loses sight of its Creole roots. 

COMMUNITY COFFEE SCÈNE HÉRITAGE

SUNDAY, APRIL 27

French Mass
11 a.m.
In a nod to FIL’s Francophone mission, the Sunday proceedings begin with an all-French mass.

Men of Vision Noon-1 p.m.
Following the French mass, Louisiana gospel ensemble Men of Vision takes FIL to church on Sunday afternoon. Leader Dwayne Thomas and his ensemble sing a mix of traditional and contemporary gospel.

Louisiana Folk Roots Presents: International Accordion Summit
1:30-2:45 p.m.
The Dominican Republic merengue of Joaquin Diaz meets the Louisiana zydeco of Corey “Lil’ Pop” Ledet in this workshop and performance. Both men will play solo and together, and at press time, a third accordion player was possibly slated to join the proceedings.

Las Eréndiras 3:15-4:30 p.m.
Straight out of San Antonio, this female mariachi ensemble dresses in traditional mariachi garb and sombreros, and the authenticity of the music follows suit. From aching ballads to full-band workouts, the group — whose 10-plus members are no older than 22 — uses sweeping violin lines and a full horn section to live up to their name of “Aztec Princesses.” When the band isn’t touring, it plays nearly seven nights a week at various Mexican restaurants in San Antonio, including outposts on San Antonio’s famed Riverwalk.

Warren Storm, Willie Tee & Cypress 5-6:15 p.m.
It’s a match made in swamp-pop heaven. Vocalist/drummer Warren Storm, the godfather of swamp pop, hooks up with legendary saxophonist Willie Tee in the band they first formed in 1980. Tee’s worked with nearly everyone in swamp pop over his career, including The Boogie Kings and Tommy McClain. Storm first hit the charts with his 1958 hit “The Prisoner’s Song,” and his voice has only gotten richer with age, making his contemporary versions of hits like “Mama, Mama, Mama” and “Things Have Gone to Pieces” as soulful as ever.

SCENE  LA PLACE DES ENFANTS

SATURDAY, APRIL 26

Mamadou Diabate
11-11:45 a.m.
Though he isn’t yet 35 years old, Diabate is one of the acknowledged masters of the kora, the 21-string African harp, and comes from a long line of storytelling griots. He started winning kora competitions at the age of 15 and embarked on international tours that took him to hallowed halls such as New York’s Lincoln Center and Metropolitan Museum, and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. Diabate now lives in New York, where his hypnotic kora mastery has led to collaborations with jazz masters Donald Byrd and Randy Weston and Zimbabwean legend Thomas Mapfumo. He earned a World Music Grammy nomination for his 2005 solo Behmanka CD, and his recent 2006 CD Heritage features renowned American jazz bassist Noah Jarrett.

Brice Kapel
12:15-1 p.m.
Parents and kids alike get the chance to participate in Brice Kapel’s interactive show that mixes music and storytelling. Games, rhymes and singing are all part of games that Kapel plays with audience members as they try and reach the fantasy land of Coloricocola.

Sheila Hebert Collins 1:30-2:15 p.m.
Children’s author and storyteller Collins specializes in French versions of fairy tale classics, including Jolie Blonde and the Three Héberts, Petite Rouge, Les Trois Cochons, Cendrillion, ‘T Pousette et ‘T Poulette, Blanchette et les Sept Petits Cajuns and Jacques et la Canne a Sucré.

Rafaél Teixido of Teatro Alpargata 2:45-3:30 p.m.
This Argentian performer blends puppetry, live music and theater to teach kids South American and Latin culture and music. Teixido uses drums, bass drums, percussion, guitar, charango, violin, trumpet and other instruments in his interactive presentation.

SCENE  LA PLACE DES ENFANTS

SUNDAY, APRIL 27

Rafaél Teixido of Teatro Alpargata
11-11:45 a.m.
This Argentinian performer blends puppetry, live music and theater to teach kids South American and Latin culture and music. Teixido uses drums, bass drums, percussion, guitar, charango, violin, trumpet and other instruments in his interactive presentation.

Lafayette High Strings 12:15-1 p.m.
Under the tutelage of Director Susan Morton, the Lafayette High Band will show its prowess in traditional fiddling. Expect Classical and Cajun touchstones, but this ensemble is capable of surprises, too; it will soon be studying Scottish fiddle traditions, courtesy of a a recent grant from the Acadiana Arts Council.

Brice Kapel
1:30-2:15 p.m.
Parents and kids alike get the chance to participate in Brice Kapel’s interactive show that mixes music and storytelling. Games, rhymes and singing are all part of games that Kapel plays with audience members as they try and reach the fantasy land of Coloricocola.

MOOV 2:45-3:30 p.m.
In its United States debut, this 30-piece female troupe from Martinique is importing its traditional island rhythms celebrating Carnival. But don’t expect a staid and serene history lesson. Headresses and an explosion of floral colors in is wardrobe are only half the attraction; picture an all-female Mardi Gras marching band that relies on bass and snare drums and a wealth of percussion instruments to strut its stuff, and you’ll get the picture.


In addition to FIL’s wealth of musical offerings, the LUS Pavillion de Cuisine Stage features a full slate of local theater offerings, including the hurricane Katrina and Rita-inspired Sustained Winds plays. Local comedic troupe Skit Happens, The UL Lafayette Dance Department and the Ryan School of Irish Dance are also on tap.

To post a comment, please log into your IND account. If you do not have an account, click the "register" button to create one. Facebook comments can be used as an alternative to creating an account at theIND.com.

Top 50 Luncheon
Top 50 Luncheon
IND L!VE
the Grid!

INDreporter

LA LA Land
Advertisement

Read the Flipping Paper!

Click Here for the Entire Print Version of
IND Monthly
Advertisement
Advertisement